Onsen (温泉), rules to Onsen

Anyone visiting Japan, I suggest to try Onsen (温泉), or others may call this “natural hot springs” or some may call it “hot bath”.

There are many onsen town/hotspring town all over Japan, and each of them will share with visitors the distinguished minerals found only in their onsen providing different health benefit, healing purposes.  But, what makes Japanese onsen so enjoyable is because in Japan, going onsen is to enjoy and appreciate the gift from mother nature.  Many  outdoor onsens/open-air bath(露天風呂) are enjoyed with the beautiful surroundings such as mountains, rivers, sea etc.

For anyone who has never tried onsen, there are some basic rules to follow and I will like to share the basic rules so that you can enjoy onsen just like the locals.

Onsen Rule

In Japan, onsen is best enjoyed completely naked. For anyone who is not comfortable to go naked in front of stranger, I suggest you to completely forget about being shy. I was first introduced to onsen by a Japanese. To go completely naked in front of someone I just met, it was strange but after a while you realized there is nothing to be shy about. It is considered rude to hide around when in onsen, so relax and enjoy a good hot bath.

What to do when you go onsen

1. You have to make sure you go to the right onsen for the male (男) and female(女).

ladies and men onsen







male & female onsen

This is a typical entrance to the onsen. male (男), female(女). Or at times they will have the word (ゆ), or (湯) written at the entrance, which in Japanese means “hot water”.

Be sure you enter the correct onsen.  The best way to know if you enter the right onsen, Red is always for the ladies, Blue is always for the men. Follow this colour code, you will never go wrong. 🙂

2. When inside onsen, you will see lockers lining in a roll. Keep all your belongings inside the locker. In some smaller onsen, they may not have locker, but they have shelves with basket. Remove all jewelry because onsen water contain minerals and may cause chemical reaction to the jewelry.

3. Next remove all your clothes and keep them in the locker or inside the basket and leave them on the shelves. Do not have to worry about theft, because it hardly happen in Japan.

4. Enter into onsen bath area. You will see a row of washing area with taps, soaps, shampoo, scrubs, small stools etc left on the washing area. Just choose a stool and seat on the stool and clean yourself with the shampoo and soaps given. Some locals like to bring their own toiletries. If you see a nice basket with all toiletries items inside, do not take.  These are likely belong to some locals. It is deem rude to use others toiletries.

onsen shower

washing area before going into onsen











washing area with a little privacy screen.








Read here for more about how you can enjoy onsen when you are in Japan. 🙂

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